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Articles / Applying to College / Effect of Dropping AP Class for Psych?
Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | April 4, 2011

Effect of Dropping AP Class for Psych?

Question: I am a junior in high school and I chose to take AP Environmental Science this year. However, midway through the year, I discovered psychology and I was immediately enthralled by the subject. So second semester, I dropped AP Environmental (which I got a B in) and switched into psychology, which is a one-semester class, and not an AP. I was given permission to do independent study and take the AP test for AP Environmental. Our school will not be offering psychology next year due to budget cuts.

Will changing from an AP class first semester to a non AP second semester hurt my chances at the top Ivy colleges I plan to apply to? What if I explain my interest in psychology and my transcript shows I took the AP Environmental test and did well?


You have already answered your own question very well. :) Use the "additional information" section of applications (or a separate letter) to explain your passion for psychology and thus your decision to drop the AP Environmental class this year and study independently. However, if you are aiming for the Ivies or other uber-competitive colleges, you should also:

-Provide additional evidence of your passion for psychology (research project, summer/evening courses, internship, etc.)

-Be sure to take AP classes that admission officials view as the heavy hitters (calculus, chem., physics, etc.) Fair or not, Environmental Science can sometimes be regarded in elite admission offices as a lightweight alternative to some of its AP brethren.

Good luck with your exams.

(posted 4/4/2011)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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